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YONKERS-Mayor Phil Amicone in his State of the City address last Thursday warned of a large budget deficit next year and stressed the importance of moving forward on the several billion dollars worth of pending waterfront revitalization projects.

Noting that the city instituted cuts and exhausted all its resources to bridge an $85-million budget deficit this year, he said that in 2009 “there will be no major elixir to save us.” The mayor blamed an inequitable state education funding formula that dramatically shortchanges the city’s school system each year. Mayor Amicone said that if there are no changes to the school funding formula, the city faces the prospect of laying off hundreds of city workers, including teachers, police officers and firefighters next year.

“The implications of the recent trouble in the financial sector when coupled with the persistent inequities inherent in the state education funding formula for Yonkers, have placed our city, our school district–all that we’ve accomplished and all that we hope to–in serious jeopardy,” he said. “So the state of our city, much like many others, is very much at a crossroads. The decisions we make in response to the challenges ahead will determine whether Yonkers continues its transformation into the great city I believe it is our destiny to become, or slips backward into the past.” He noted that currently before the city is a total of approximately $5 billion in development projects, including a $1.5-billion waterfront revitalization proposal that is nearing the final stages of the approval process.

The mayor noting the economic downturn that has taken hold nationally and in the region urged the City Council “to move forward as quickly as possible in approving these critical projects.” In reaction to a 24% increase in Westchester County taxes imposed on Yonkers residents this year, Mayor Amicone said he will submit a resolution to the City Council calling for a countywide reassessment of properties.

“It’s time that we do something about this problem on a countywide level and, as Westchester’s largest city, we in Yonkers must take the lead,” he said. He later added, “Countywide revaluation is the fair thing to do, it’s the right thing to do, and it’s time we got it done.”

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